Netflix’s ‘The Swimmers’ follows the true story of the Mardini sisters, who were forced to flee their home in Syria after war erupted in the nation. The film follows their journey from Damascus to Berlin while braving near-death situations. All along this, one of the things that keeps the younger sister, Yusra, going is her dream to participate in the Olympics. By the time the credits start to roll, we know that Yusra did get to live her dream. She competed in Rio Olympics. We see her finishing first, but does that mean that she won a medal? If you are wondering whether Yusra Mardini won anything at the Rio Olympics, then here’s what you should know.
Did Yusra Mardini Win A Medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics?
No, Yusra Mardini did not win a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She participated in the Olympics under the IOC Refugee Olympic Team. Despite her wish to represent her country, Syria, she could not get that opportunity due to the war-torn state of the country. In her first appearance in the Olympics, she made an impression by winning the 100-meter butterfly heat, which is what we see her winning in the movie. She finished it in 1:09.21, which was a personal improvement for her, but it wasn’t enough to get her to the semifinals, which only has the top 16 swimmers battling it out for the finals. Mardini also swam 100-m freestyle but did not win her heat.
Mardini competed in the Olympics for the second time at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where she was also the team flag bearer. This time, she finished in third place with a time of 1:06.78 and didn’t qualify for the semifinals. She hopes to compete again at the 2024 Paris Olympics. However, after receiving her German citizenship, she will no longer be a part of the Refugee Olympic Team and will represent Germany if she is qualified for it.
While it was Mardini’s dream to compete in the Olympics and win a medal, after representing the Refugee Team, she believes that the nature of her purpose has been elevated. She has gone from “this little girl that just focused on swimming and winning gold medals to escaping war and representing millions around the world”, which has changed the way she thinks. She first felt the nudge of this feeling when she stepped into the Maracana Stadium for the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics.
“The moment I entered the stadium with this team, I saw everyone standing up. I saw the president stand up. I had goosebumps. And I will never forget that moment. That was when I realized that it’s not about me, it’s about millions of people around the world. We received so many messages from refugees and we realized that we had a responsibility to help them all. Bringing hope to people is now way more important to me than winning the gold medal,” she said.
She also explained that previously, while she’d competed on behalf of Syria in other international competitions, she didn’t have the same opportunities she has now. “I didn’t have the support of the federation,” she said. Feeling that the Refugee Team provides a similar opportunity to other sportspeople like her, she appreciates the fact that she has been a part of the team that represents a much bigger section of the world. “I know that I am maybe not carrying my country’s flag but I’m carrying the Olympic flag which represents the whole wide world.” It is this that matters the most for her, inspiring people and showing them that they, too, can survive in the face of all odds and carve a place for themselves in the world.